Networking For Shy People

By: Julie East, Corp. Marketing & Recruiting

Dec 7, 2021

Networking is simply an exchange of information and ideas with people in informal or formal settings. It’s getting to know new people who share your career interests and letting them get to know you.  But here’s the paradox: how do you network when you are a naturally shy person? Networking is by far the best way to learn about other companies and new job opportunities, but few job seekers want to do it. The main reasons include: Shyness - Introversion - Being uncomfortable talking to strangers.  

A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.


With whom should you network?

You can network with anyone you meet. I once made a contact in Walmart when I overheard a man speaking about his service in the military. I thanked him for his service and asked what he did in the military. He was an electrical technician. Since my son is getting his degree as an electrician, I asked where he worked. He was more than happy to share information and gave plenty of contacts for him to call once he got his certification. You NEVER know who you will meet that has the capacity to help in your career.  

If you are new to networking or just need a confident boost, you can start with those closest to you and then fan out.  Start with your family, friends, past and present co-workers, neighbors, etc. Once you get comfortable with speaking to them, you can fan out to career fairs, alumni events, members of your associations, people you meet at industry functions, and more. You can see how the possibilities are endless.


Quick tips before you start networking

  • Networking is a two-way street. Be willing to share your knowledge, experience and contacts with others.
  • Listen carefully to people when you are talking with them.
  • If you tell someone you are not going to ask them for a job, do not ask. In addition, it is much better for someone to get to know you and refer you for a position, or recruit you.
  • Be respectful of the contacts you meet. They are sharing valuable time and knowledge. Do not push or go beyond reasonable boundaries.
  • Keep a record of your networking and job leads.
  • Remember to thank those who help you, and let them know when you land your new job.
  • Lastly, just do it. Think of all the knowledgeable and well-connected people you could be meeting!


What Do I Say?  

The term “networking” tends to scare people off, but it’s simply a conversation and getting to know someone new. Have a list of simple questions to get the conversation started, and then flow from there. The following sample questions cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No. They are questions that generate a longer answer and can spark further discussions. It allows the other person to talk easily about themselves. Here are some examples:  

  • What kind of work do you do?
  • How did you get into that field?
  • How long have you been with your company?
  • What do you like most about your field?
  • What do you find most challenging?
  • What would make your job easier?
  • What are the big challenges facing your company in the next two years?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Does this industry offer internships or apprenticeships?
  • Is your company facing any unique challenges?
  • Do you work mostly in the office or do you work remotely?
  • What shows are you streaming right now?
  • Where should I go while I am in town? (If visiting an area)
  • Where would you recommend I go for dinner in town? (If visiting an area)  

One of my favorite places to make new contacts is in the food line at an event. While waiting in the line, I strike up a conversation with the people around me. “Glad I’m not too hungry” or something silly to get them at ease. Then I go into my list of networking questions. By having a few questions memorized, you won’t feel like you will run out of things to talk about, because your conversation partner will do most of the talking. Periodically reflect back to them what you hear, and ask follow up questions. Having a back-and-forth conversation is more comfortable than bombarding them with question after question.


What Do I Do Now?  

Now that you have made a few contacts, how do you keep the momentum going? I meet many people at job fairs and expos. Most contacts will give you a business card. Write a quick note on the back: What you talked about AND any follow up they or you were going to do. I will email a contact with a question about a giveaway item (where they got it, cost, etc.) or if they know any other events coming up that might be a good fit for Lofton. This keeps an open line of communication between us.  

Be sure to add your contacts on LinkedIn. First, be sure you have a strong, accurate profile. Make sure you have a professional profile picture, good summary, and up-to-date work history. When sending a request to a new contact, always include a personalized note as opposed to a generic LinkedIn invitation. A quick message on how you met or explaining why you wish to connect will help you establish a better relationship with your new contact. Once the request is accepted, you need to start building a strong relationship. Comment on your connections' posts, like and share their content, and even reach out periodically by sending them a message to see how they're doing. Networking is about creating relationships, and if you're a silent LinkedIn connection, your relationships will never grow.  

Networking is a great way to make connections in your industry. You never know what opportunities could arise when you can build meaningful relationships with colleagues, experts, recruiters and potential employers online.


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them.  Contact us today

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